What happens when you want to start something entirely new for your community? How do you come to the decision to tackle such an undertaking? Where do you even begin?
In our first full episode of The Excellent Adventure Show, we examine these questions and many more with Nate Taylor and Brian Pope. These two guys from Omaha, Nebraska, are planning the first iteration of Connectaha—a technology conference aiming to connect people across different technology stacks and different technical roles in order to raise up an entire community.
It is apropos to welcome Nate and Brian as our first guests. Just as they are building a community event for the first time, Jon and I have been going through the learning process starting up this site and, especially, launching our new video-format show. It is nice to wade through the process alongside friends who can empathize with our current experiences.
Talking to Brian about the vision behind Connectaha, he reflected on recent observations from his and Nate’s day job at Aviture. He has observed that the division of work, and the successes of projects and teams, was no longer title-driven. “[I]t’s more of a teamwork-driven thing…. We thought that concept was interesting as far as a conference goes.”
Jon and I can relate well to the idealization of professional development conferences as analogs to cross-functional teams. Our entire board for KCDC holds very similar values. We have always said we want a company to send its entire project or product team so that everyone can learn together. This leads to better intra-team understanding, collaboration, and empathy.
Nate also raised a more pragmatic concern underlying Connectaha. Interdisciplinary content is important, but he and Brian are also simply trying to provide opportunities to segments of the industry where they do not currently exist. “[W]e talked to some of the UX people…they were like, ‘Oh, we’ve never had a conference in Omaha that we could go to. And speak at.'”
Over the course of nearly an hour, our conversation covered a wide variety of topics:
- Why be motivated for starting something new in an already crowded field?
- How are an event team’s values visible in the event itself?
- What challenges have Nate and Brian faced, both expected and not-so-expected?
- Why is it important to share experiences and open public-speaking opportunities to peers and colleagues?
- How is mentoring new leaders within our own communities important to the industry’s overall health and sustainability?
It was a great discussion. It’s always good to chat with Nate and Brian, and we were thrilled they agreed to be our very first guests on Jeff and Jon’s Excellent Adventure.
Connectaha is coming to Omaha on March 8, 2019. The two of us will be there for sure, and we hope to see many of you, too! For more information, find Connectaha online: